Accountable Reimbursements – 2021

I get a lot of calls from church treasurers. A relatively small percentage of those treasurers are frustrated with their pastor. Of those that are frustrated, it’s almost always around the subject of ARP and accountable reimbursements. So…the primary reason I teach new clergy on accountable reimbursements is to prevent the pastor from being secretly hated by their treasurer.

Here’s the source of the strife: pastors expect timely reimbursements for all their expenses, and treasurers expect timely receipts for all the pastor’s expenses. Expectations are premeditated resentments…especially when these expectations aren’t plainly expressed. Here is what I go over in this training video:

  • Commuting vs Business Miles: I have an actual diagram to clearly show which miles are reimbursable or not.
  • Ownership Issues: Who ones the stuff purchased through ARP and when this actually matters.
  • Receipt Systems: Keeping track of those receipts is an issue for so many people. I give a few ideas on how to make this easier.
  • The Road Warrior: There are some pastors that regularly travel 200+ miles a week for work. Part of the mileage reimbursement is to cover the wear and tear on the vehicle so how can you manage the reimbursement to fund your next vehicle purchase.

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Clergy Taxes – 2021

A few years back, I taught a class at the Clergy Leadership Academy on the subject of clergy taxes. I know that there were more than a few pastors hoping to come away from that class fully equipped to file their own taxes. I’m sure they were disappointed when I led with this statement: “My hope isn’t that you will end up as clergy tax experts. Instead, I want you to end up as excellent clients of clergy tax experts.” Taxes are a profession, not a side hobby. You can’t just pick it up in a one-hour training.

Having worked with clergy taxes for 20 years, even I don’t feel competent to file taxes for clergy…and I teach the stuff! What I have seen and what I teach on is the basic principles that can protect you from expensive mistakes and help you not pay more than your fair share. This includes:

  • Fundamental Problem with Clergy Taxes: There are a handful of significant ways clergy taxes differ from that of a regular employee. When you understand those, you’ll officially be smarter than Albert Einstein.
  • Understanding the Housing Exclusion: How it works and what expenses can be written off.
  • COVID Tax Credits: How the FFCRA and ERC tax credits can benefit clergy and churches.
  • Most Important: A list of clergy tax experts that I know and trust.

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Accountable Reimbursements

Another topic I regularly teach is Accountable Reimbursement Plans. I used to think of this as a pretty straight forward topic, but I’m an accountant. I think in accounting rules…debits, credits, etc. The best part of this presentation is that chart for figuring out if mileage is commuting or business. This would also be a good one for church treasurers to review as they also have the same questions.

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Clergy Taxes

There are few things more confusing than Clergy Taxes. I do a webinar annually to train new clergy on what they should know about Clergy Taxes. I had the help of a few experienced pastors on this (Jenny Hallenbeck Orr, Karl Kroger, and Jen Tyler).

Long story short, Clergy Taxes are so confusing because pastors are considered both self-employed and church-employed by the Federal government. This training isn’t to make pastors into tax experts. It’s to make them good clients of tax experts.

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Annual Conference Memories – 2015

With Annual Conference being postponed, I thought it’d be fun to post some videos from Annual Conference past. This is one from 2015. I reused my “Keep your eye on ROI” slide which is a classic. There were some great moments where we learn Jesus can do math and see my ability to make church logos.

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